By Frank Sabatini Jr.
A restaurant and bar featuring tabletop games and a comic-book motif has soft-opened in Hillcrest, in the Googie-style building that formerly housed Commonwealth Ultra Lounge.
Its new tenant, Evan Jones, promises a playful atmosphere at Tabletop Commons, where guests can square off over popular games such as Cock & Bull, Boss Monster, Say Anything and many more. Craft beers and specialty cocktails augment a menu of comfort food and desserts authored by Chef Miguel Valdez, who recently helmed the kitchen at 100 Wines. A few empty wall spaces for rotating artists are yet to be filled. 1263 University Ave., 619-487-1382.
Hillcrest will see its first urban winery with the July arrival of Vinavanti, which is moving its entire operation from Sorrento Valley into the former V Outlet building on University Avenue. Vinavanti president and winemaker Eric Van Drunen said he was looking for a bigger space in a more retail-friendly location for selling his certified-organic wines, which use grapes sourced from Ramona, Temecula and Warner Springs.
“Since opening in Sorrento Valley three years ago, we’ve been producing about a dozen different wines annually,” Van Drunen added. “And our new location will feature a tasting room and a first-time food menu. 1477 University Ave., 877-484-6282.
More than 20 restaurants are taking part in the 26th annual Taste of Point Loma, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., April 22. The event is presented by the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and encompasses restaurants on Shelter Island, parts of Rosecrans Street and several of its side streets. New to the lineup is Vessel Restaurant at Kona Kai and Pomodoro Restaurant Italiano. They will be joined by repeat participants such as The Wine Pub, Old Venice Restaurant, The Elegant Truffle, Mitch’s Seafood, The Pearl and more. Admission is $25 or $15 for cyclists, students and active military. Tickets include a sample dish from each restaurant. For more information, visit peninsulachamber.com.
Chef Mike Almos is calling it “the big night” at Circa in University Heights for when he presents a prix fixe family-style dinner at 6:30 p.m., April 29, in celebration of the restaurant’s one-year anniversary.
Inspired by scenes from the movie, “Big Night,” which will be showing without sound, guests will be seated at communal tables while passing around platters of food. Among the dishes in the five-course lineup are black kale salad, King Ranch flat iron steak, chocolate mousse and more. The price is $35, not including tax, tip or beverages. Reservations are required. 2121 Adams Ave., 619-269-9152.
The eco-conscious Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream in North Park has introduced several first-time flavors to its ever-changing repertoire. As of this month, look for candy ginger, Jack Daniel’s, Kahlua Cream and Reese’s Pieces in the rotation. Known for its super-premium ice cream containing 18 percent butterfat, the shop features a communal table made from a fallen eucalyptus tree and a chandelier crafted from repurposed sundae cups. 3077 University Ave., 619-220-0231.
Leave it to the French kitchens for snagging some of the first seasonal bounties when devising their spring menus. Chef Ken Irvine of Bleu Boheme in Kensington has just introduced a new list of dishes that unite early asparagus and English peas in farro salad; fresh heirloom cauliflower and haricots vert for steak au poivre; and pistachios and local strawberries in apricot-mascarpone tarts. In addition, mussels cooked in a variety of different sauces and herbs are now available in 1- or 2-pound pots. 4090 Adams Ave., 619-255-4167.
Attention taco and burrito lovers on the hunt for something a little different but not over the top. The new Amorcito Corazon Mexican Bistro in North Park is up and running with a few menu standouts you don’t often find amid the competition. Vegetarians, for example, can opt for tortillas filled with cactus or huitlacoche (corn fungus) while carnivores can opt for red snapper, calamari or chili verde in theirs. And for those who can’t live without their kale salads, this one receives a worthy kick from jalapeno-Caesar dressing. The modestly decorated eatery recently replaced Veg-N-Out. 3442 30th St., 619-293-3569.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.